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AFSCME Scheming to Land Interim Commerce PIO Stinnett Full-Time Job


By Brian Hews and Randy Economy

Jason Stinnett, Interim PIO for the CIty of Commerce is apparently running campaigns out of Commerce City Hall.

Jason Stinnett, Interim PIO for the CIty of Commerce.

Hews Media Group-Community News has learned that AFSCME District Council 36, headquartered in Los Angeles, is placing pressure on the Commerce City Council to hire interim Public Information Officer Jason Stinnett and Secretary and Assistant Executive Director Adam Acosta is leading the charge to land the job for Stinnett.

Sources tell HMG-CN that the City of Commerce initiated a comprehensive hiring process, advertising for a PIO and interviewing candidates. The candidates were narrowed down to “Band 1” of which Stinnett was not included.

Jorge Rifa the Commerce City Administrator was reportedly ready to make an offer to a candidate from Band 1 when Stinnett alleged tampering with the selection process. The Commerce City Council intervened and put the offer on hold. City Attorney Eddie Olivo subsequently placed the subject into a closed session item removing the process from public scrutiny.

According to city policy, the city council cannot intervene in the hiring process of any represented employee, it is up to the city administrator to hire, but the pressure that Acosta and AFSCME are placing on the process has apparently stopped Rifa from moving forward.

HMG-CN contacted Stinnett by phone in regards to the hiring of the PIO and whether AFSCME and Acosta, who reportedly is very good friends with Stinnett, intervened, Stinnett declined to comment.

Calls into Acosta went unreturned.

In past months, a group of vocal Commerce activists criticized the city job application process claiming that Stinnett was offered the job as political payback. Stinnett was a political consultant to three current members of the city council.

Stinnett has been a strong force in Commerce area politics for the past number of years and has worked in the past to get current city elected officials Lilia Leon, Tina Baca Del Rio, Ivan Alramirano, and Joe Aguilar into office.

Stinnett in the past has also overseen a local political website www.savecommerce.org.

The web site actively promoted the campaigns for Leon, Baca Del Rio, Alramirano and Aguilar, and others in the past, and criticized outside challengers who have sought public office in Commerce.

“My concern is that this job is not open to anyone with better qualifications from outside of Commerce,” said Jamie Valencia a longtime community activist. “ We need someone who doesn’t have a bias view of the city.”

In an interview with the Commerce Community News City Administartor Jorge Rifa said, “I will confirm that I will be responsible for deciding who lands the (PIO) job and that includes the final process.”

Rifa went on to say, “all I can tell you is it is my intention to basically put a recruitment process as requested by the city council, and I have done that.”
Valencia was direct in his displeasure with Stinnett and the “back room deals that are being cut to take care of him.”

Valencia said, “Jason has a bias view based upon the fact that he ran the campaigns for four current city council members including Mayor Joe Aguilar, Vice Mayor Lela Leon, Councilman Ivan Alramirano, and Councilwoman Tina Baca DeRio. The public has the right to know what’s going on inside city hall and we deserve a public information officer who doesn’t have a political agenda of his own,” Valencia said.

Stinnett has indicated that he will be a candidate for the Central Basin Water District Board of Directors in 2014 and run against incumbent Art Chacon who is a longtime resident of Commerce. He has received $1,000 in donations from AFSCME.

Valencia said that he is “deeply troubled” by Stinnett’s planned campaign.

“It is obvious that Jason is using his position to leverage his own career in politics.”

“I feel that employees are scared of Jason because the way he helps the city council and the city council protects him. Jason manipulates city workers,” Valencia said.

Another longtime city employee who has worked for more than 20 years in Commerce, who did not want to be publicly identified for fear of retaliation said, “the city of Commerce doesn’t need a full time Public Information Officer at this time, especially someone with a track record like Stinnett. Jason is the most influential person in Commerce; he is more powerful than all five city council members combined. He is going to get this job based on his political power, not because he is the qualified,” the source said.

Stinnett is also listed a Vice President of the American Federation of State County Municipal Employees, District #36 for Local 773 Commerce Employees Association. A member of the union, who did not want to be named, said, “Jason plays both sides of the fence. Because of Jason, we got a lousy contract for the city workers.”
“Jason is the Robert Rizzo of Commerce,” one other source said. “He isn’t likeable, he is politically savvy, but just watch your wallet.”

An examination of Mr. Stinnett’s campaign donations (form 460) reveal that AFSCME has donated over thousand dollars to him creating an apparent conflict of interest between the union endorsing him for his candidacy and also endorsing for an employment job.

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